British Formula One motor racing team Williams has spoken of its plans to invest heavily in esports over the coming years.
This will involve branching into new esports titles and growing the number of dedicated esports staff on its team.
Steven English, head of esports at Williams Racing, told Esports News UK: “The board of our company recently approved a new esports business plan, which is investing in millions over the next five years and beyond.”
Williams entered esports three years ago in sim racing, and now has its sights set beyond that. For example, Williams Racing recently partnered with UK esports organisation Resolve to enter Rocket League esports together.
“Sim racing was a good place to start and we’re expanding beyond it,” Steven continued. “The fact that Rocket League has done a deal with Formula One and the teams like Williams have livery in it, that’s helped us take a step forward there. And in the future we’ll be looking at titles beyond the sectors we began in, and that will only bring more growth, areas of specialisation and careers in the future.
“So three years in [to our esports journey], we’re still snowballing out of control as an esports business.”
Steven explained that esports ‘very quickly dwarfed’ Williams’ other new projects to become a business of its own at Williams, rather than just being a marketing project a Formula One team was pursuing. This growth led to Williams expanding its team, with Steven solely focusing on esports.
“We’ve gone from having no esports employees just over three years ago to five permanent people now who are 100% dedicated to esports,” he said. “We’re expecting that number to double year-on-year in the short-term future, and there’s a range of skills and areas where those jobs will be.
“Even what we do with our esports programme is growing and diversifying year-on-year. When we started, we thought we’d be a racing team that competes in series, just like Williams does in the real world and has done in Formula One for 40-odd years. But we’ve almost accidentally diversified to the point where we run customer teams for other people, we host events, we’re now a broadcaster.
“That opportunity to be agile and spot a new avenue and go and explore it, we’ve found it’s so open in esports, the barriers to entry are so much lower than they are in real world sport. We’re now going to need a lot more people to help deliver the stuff we’ve realised we can do.”
Steven, who has worked at Williams for seven years and F1 for 12, was speaking to Esports News UK as part of a press call organised by Pearson and the British Esports Association to talk about the Esports BTEC qualifications.
He spoke about the need for talent in this area and the value of prospective employees with esports-specific qualifications.
Steven said: “Students studying the BTEC would bring that rounded experience to everything we’re doing – you can’t underestimate the value of that. To me it makes more sense to train in the area you’re passionate about [like esports] rather than a linear path [like a specialist degree in one area like journalism].
“Coming in with a head-start in every area makes you much better prepared than coming in over-trained in one area and under-trained in the other areas.”
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League of Legends and World of Warcraft player, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.